AT&T Scales Back Throttling of Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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AT&T has quietly updated one of its policies to reflect that it will now only throttle customers that are connected to a cell tower experiencing network congestion, reports Ars Technica. The carrier previously throttled all grandfathered customers with unlimited data plans that exceeded 5GB of 4G LTE data usage in a single monthly billing period, regardless of network congestion.

The updated policy reads as follows:
"As a result of AT&T's network management process, customers on a 3G or 4G smartphone or on a 4G LTE smartphone with an unlimited data plan who have exceeded 3 gigabytes (3G/4G) or 5 gigabytes (4G LTE) of data in a billing period may experience reduced speeds when using data services at times and in areas that are experiencing network congestion. All such customers can still use unlimited data without incurring overage charges, and their speeds will be restored with the start of the next billing cycle."
Last October, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a federal court complaint against AT&T, accusing the carrier of misleading its smartphone customers by charging them for unlimited data while reducing their data speeds by up to 90 percent. The FTC claimed that AT&T did not adequately inform its customers that they would be throttled for using more than a certain amount of data during a billing cycle. AT&T could still face penalties from the FTC if it loses the case, despite changing its policy.

AT&T customers with unlimited data plans have experienced speeds as low as half a megabit per second when being throttled, according to the report, resulting in barely usable service. By throttling unlimited data plans, AT&T is naturally encouraging customers to switch to one of the tiered data plans that it introduced in the years after discontinuing unlimited plans. Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have similar throttling practices where there is network congestion.

Article Link: AT&T Scales Back Throttling of Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans
 

augieortiz

macrumors newbie
Apr 23, 2015
2
0
Well, I'm being throttled right now to less than a MB. I doubt they are only doing this to congested areas.
 

hlfway2anywhere

macrumors 65816
Jul 15, 2006
1,376
1,917
Great! Let me just tell 2010 me so I can keep not being able to use personal hotspot or FaceTime over LTE for a few extra years because it'll be worth it in the end!
 

bushido

Suspended
Mar 26, 2008
8,070
2,754
Germany
must be nice... all our plans are unlimited but they throttle you to 64kbs for the rest of the month depending on your plan. most are being throttled after 500 mb to 1GB. when I tell people I get 3GB they look at me like I am from the future lol Tmobile is crapping on their "own people" while shipping all their good service offers to the US
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,041
14,856
Central U.S.
Original iPhone data plan user here. Too bad AT&T! I already left and Verizon is EXCELLENT. I have much better coverage, faster speed, free tethering, and great customer service that keeps calling me about giving me free data and lowering my bill. Now Verizon costs roughly the same as my AT&T bill was before and I'm much happier. Their iOS 8 widget is great and helps make sure I don't go over my cap, which is a generous 7GB. On my original contract I started at 2GB and have only had the cost go down and the data go up. They even gave me a year of free data on my wife's iPad Mini 2.
 

KPOM

macrumors P6
Oct 23, 2010
15,396
3,838
They announced this last year but for some reason it has taken them until now to implement it. Foot dragging I'm sure, since this is how they always treated 3G plans.

I'm guessing they'll try to "discourage" those of us on UDPs when they eliminate contracts later this year by pulling a Verizon and making us buy our phones outright without getting the Next benefits.
 

BeSweeet

macrumors 68000
Apr 2, 2009
1,566
1,269
San Antonio, TX
How would one tell if you're on a congested cell site or if you're actually being throttled? It's not hard for AT&T to have sub-1Mbps speeds here and there pre-throttle...
 

teslo

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2014
928
598
i'm almost ready to give up on my Verizon grandfather plan. i (almost) never use the amount of data they offer at cheaper rates in a regular plan, but i do also know 4K vids and 'heavier' content are coming down the road. anyone else in my boat? so far it's been nothing but more expensive for me, especially when buying a new phone - anyone else think it's worth holding out?
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,458
14,010
In between a rock and a hard place
Well, this explains why I keep getting reduced speeds halfway through my billing cycle. I gotta get out of this. Unlimited just doesn't mean what it used to.
That was AT&T's goal all along. They wanted to make that grandfathered plan so unattractive that you'd want to move to one of their more profitable plans. Bad that you had to experience their shenanigans, but good that you've held out and can actually benefit from your plan. Fear not though. This is AT&T. I'm sure they are plotting a new way to "convince" you to abandon your plan.
 

pito189

macrumors member
Sep 28, 2006
51
9
I've noticed they stopped throttling me after 5GB.

I guess I won't have to always try to be on wifi because of fear of going over 5GB and having a dial up modem iPhone.
 

titans1127

macrumors 6502a
Mar 10, 2009
955
137
It doesn't look like they changed their policy at all. It still says speeds will be reduced until the end of the bill cycle, just like it always has been. Sure they might not be throttling right at 5GB anymore but they are still essentially doing the same thing.
 

east85

macrumors 65816
Jun 24, 2010
1,343
495
Unlimited iPad data plan here, enjoying never being throttled. Glad to see they're loosening up their policies on the phone end of things, less of a chance they'll start to mess with my plan.
 

DavidTheExpert

macrumors regular
Apr 20, 2012
199
349
This was one of AT&T's biggest blunders. They were THE iPhone carrier at the beginning, but the whole throttling thing cost them a whole lot of smartphone customers.
 

AppleFan360

macrumors 68020
Jan 26, 2008
2,197
689
The unlimited data plan is great to have in certain situations but nowadays its actually obsolete especially since mobile share comes with hotspot and data rollover.
 

indieshack

macrumors member
Mar 12, 2015
73
3
"their speeds will be restored with the start of the next billing cycle."

Doesn't that suggest that once throttling occurs (for whatever reason, congestion, etc) that their data speed won't return in that billing cycle?
 

Imory

macrumors 6502a
Feb 2, 2013
792
254
Wonderland
Original iPhone data plan user here. Too bad AT&T! I already left and Verizon is EXCELLENT. I have much better coverage, faster speed, free tethering, and great customer service that keeps calling me about giving me free data and lowering my bill. Now Verizon costs roughly the same as my AT&T bill was before and I'm much happier. Their iOS 8 widget is great and helps make sure I don't go over my cap, which is a generous 7GB. On my original contract I started at 2GB and have only had the cost go down and the data go up. They even gave me a year of free data on my wife's iPad Mini 2.
I thought people despised Verizon and AT&T to the same degree? Basically two companies cut from the same cloth.

The only one with any actual goodwill being T-Mobile, which unfortunately suffers from poor coverage?
 

Thunderhawks

Suspended
Feb 17, 2009
4,057
2,118
I'm sorry but this is like being punched on the left side of your face instead of the right.
Agreed, which is why I never left ATT. They all have issues.
Keeping Unlimited until they claw it out of my dead hands.

In the meantime we need an iPhone that can have 2 different numbers and 2 different carriers (or more), which we can select depending on the coverage area.
 

jpgr15

macrumors 6502a
Apr 28, 2015
528
992
I really take an issue with the whole tiered data plan thing. When smart phones were new, carriers offered unlimited data plans. Then many carriers they decided they aren't going to even offer it as an option. It seems like such a step backwards for consumers. Unlimited is the natural progression of things - unlimited texts and minutes have become the norm for a lot of plans. I hate how companies like AT&T can't even act like they are decent to their customers.
 

Kendo

macrumors 68020
Apr 4, 2011
2,162
626
What does this mean though? If I have a non-unlimited plan (let's say 30GB a month), I won't get throttled even in a congested area. But those who have unlimited plans will get throttled in a congested area? If they don't have to throttle a person that pays for their data in buckets, obviously there isn't congestion to begin with?
 
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